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  • Digital Culture in Hong Kong Canadian Communities:Literary Analysis of Yi Shu's Fiction
  • Jessica Tsui-yan Li

Hong Kong Canadian Communities have particularly expanded between the 1980s and the mid-1990s, in part owing to a new wave of Hong Kong immigration to Canada in recent years. This large-scale migration is mainly due to Hong Kong's dynamic geopolitical and economic relationships with Mainland China and Canada as a result of its transformation from a British colony (1842-1997) to a postcolonial city. Hong Kong Canadian migration and communities offer important contributions to the sociohistorical, political, and economic heterogeneity of multicultural Canadian communities. As a trading centre on Mainland China's south coast, Hong Kong was an important stop on the travels of Chinese migrants to Canada from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. With the hardworking ethics of its population and its role as a window to the rest of the world for Mainland China, Hong Kong gradually developed from a fishing port into an industrial city and then became an international financial centre, making the most of an economic uplift that began in the 1970s. With the advance of global capitalism, Hong Kong has progressively established its distinctive judicial, financial, medical, educational, transportation, and social welfare systems, and gradually produced a local culture and a sense of identity.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play a significant role in shaping contemporary diasporic communities, such as those of Hong Kong Canadians. According to Leopoldina Fortunati, Raul Pertierra, and Jane Vincent, "The appropriation of the new media by migrants has changed the way in which today people migrate, move, negotiate their personal and national identity and make strategies to deal with new cultures. Central among the main causes of the diffusion, adoption and domestication of ICTs by migrants are the globalization and the development of the broadband society" (1). Improvements in communication and [End Page 191] transportation allow Hong Kong Canadians to negotiate their diverse and fluid identities, maintain their transnational social and economic ties, lead cross-cultural lifestyles disregarding territorial and national boundaries, and thus produce what Benedict Anderson has described as an "imagined community."

The influence of digital culture on Hong Kong Canadian communities has received insufficient attention and deserves further analysis. Digital culture generates paradoxical implications in contemporary Hong Kong Canadian communities: it facilitates Chinese Canadians' transnational and transcultural communication through social media, electronic devices, and travelling across oceans and continents; meanwhile, it creates the risk of alienation due to the users' over-reliance on technology in communication. Its social influences depend on the choices the users make and the benefits they derive from it. This paper explores the contributions of digital culture to the mobility and diversity of Hong Kong Canadian communities through transnational connection, virtual communities, and cultural innovations, as depicted in Yi Shu's (Isabel Nee Yeh-su 倪亦舒 1946-) novels Zongheng sihai 縱橫 四海 (Crossing the Oceans, 1995), Hongchen 紅塵 (Red Dust, 1995), Xian yangguang congpei 西岸陽光充沛 (The Sunny West Coast, 1988), and Shaonian bu chou 少年不 愁 (The Youth Have No Worries, 2009).

Yi Shu and Hong Kong Canadian Communities

The term Hong Kong Canadian is more specific than the broader term Chinese Canadian, which has been commonly used in academia. Hong Kong Canadians are those with Hong Kong cultural heritage who live and work in Canada, while Chinese Canadians include Canadians of Chinese cultural heritage from many different places, such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, South East Asia, Europe, North and South America, Australia, and elsewhere. Within the broader category of Hong Kong Canadian are variations among the population, such as date of immigration (first, second, third, or more generations), gender, sex, sexual orientation, religion, level of education, social classes, and location, all of which contribute to the diversity of Hong Kong Canadian communities.

Rather than being homogeneous and isolated, Hong Kong Canadian communities are pluralistic and open to other cultures: "borders of every kind are continuously crossed by people with different backgrounds in interchanges that mix commodities as well as experiences, ideas and imaginations" (Mantovani 21). Hong Kong Canadians may have migrated from different places before residing in Hong Kong and then transiting to other places...


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pp. 191-201
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